A Tyranny of Petticoats Edited by Jessica Spotswood



From an impressive sisterhood of YA writers comes an edge-of-your-seat anthology of historical fiction and fantasy featuring a diverse array of daring heroines.

Criss-cross America — on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains — from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They’re making their own way in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.

Anthologies are hit or miss for me. Some – like the brilliant Zombies vs. Unicorns – are filled with story after story that I cannot put down. Others – like Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd – can’t seem to hold my attention for more than a few pages at a time.

So when I started hearing about A Tyranny of Petticoats I wasn’t sure it would be something I’d pick up. Then, I heard that Leslye Walton had a short story included in the anthology and very abruptly, everything changed. I LOVE HER. Like, love LOVE her. I think The Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Seriously, I stand by that. If you don’t believe me, you have to go and read it. I immediately wrote to Candlewick to try and procure an ARC, and they graciously granted my request.

I was not disappointed.

A Tyranny of Petticoats is a wonderful anthology about kick-butt girls – from a myriad of diverse backgrounds – growing up throughout American History. They’re survivors, warriors, and protectors (of themselves and others). They’re funny and witty and smart. They have street savvy and social grace, and they know exactly how to use those skills to their advantage. These stories are magical and mythical and intoxicating.

It was some pretty stiff competition, but these are a few of my favorite stories (in chronological order):

Madeline’s Choice by Jessica Spotswood – I haven’t read anything of Jessica Spotswood’s before now, but I definitely see how she specializes in historical romance. This is a very interesting take on the practice of white men taking mixed-race mistresses instead of wives in the deep south back when marriage between races was illegal. I loved the set-up, and I wasn’t expecting the twists.

El Destines by Leslye Walton – I’m so pleased to say that Leslye Walton did not disappoint. This might have been my absolute favorite story from the anthology. 1) it’s about the fates, 2) it’s set in Texas shortly after it was annexed by the United Sates, and 3) it’s magical and wonderful and full of the stunning prose I’ve come to expect from a Leslye Walton piece. The characters are rich and the setting is luscious, and honestly I would an entire book on this subject ASAP.

High Stakes by Andrea Cremer – Whoa. That’s all I can even say about this one. High stakes indeed. I loved the mystery of this story, as well as how Cremer took ancient magical races and seamlessly tied them into American history. You’ve got warlocks, goblins, necromancers, werewolves, djinn, and vampires, just to name a few. And they’re playing a game to decide the fate of the United States during The Civil War. It’s quite the feat, and I thought the ending was shocking in the best possible way.

The Red Raven Ball by Caroline Tung Richmond – Lies, spies and family drama. What more could you possibly need in a civil war story? Especially when the spy is an awesome heroine who finds herself caught in the thick of the war and has to make some tough choices on the spot. This is a quick-paced drama that kept me engrossed to the very end.

The Legendary Garrett Girls by Y.S. Lee – I’ve never been much for gold-rush stories, but The Legendary Garrett Girls just might have converted me. I loved the Alaskan setting, and the Garrett Girls themselves were fierce and fiery and so quick on their feet it was almost hard to keep up. I loved seeing them outwit the swindler who tries to bully them out of their own business. I’ve just got one word for y’all: outhouse. Read it and you’ll figure it out. I promise, it’s worth it.

Bonnie and Clyde by Saundra Mitchell – This was an interesting take on bank robbery, playing homage to Bonnie and Clyde, and I liked how it delved more into why a person might choose to rob banks, especially during The Great Depression. Plus, this story really plays up the whole double identity card, and I find that brilliant.

Pulse of the Panthers by Kekla Magoon – I can honestly say that this story taught me more about The Black Panther Party in a few dozen pages then any of my history classes ever did. I was fascinated by this story’s take on the party itself, as well as the historical context that brought the party to life in the first place.

I really loved how cohesively these stories fit together. They’re arranged chronologically, and it makes for a beautiful transition from story to story. That’s the mark of a well-edited anthology in my opinion. Jessica Spotswood did an amazing job of putting this collection together in just the right way, creating a beautiful journey through history with some amazing YA authors.

If you’re into awesome heroines, YA lit, or historical fiction, this is one anthology you won’t want to miss.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars 

Did you read A Tyranny of Petticoats? Which one was your favorite story? If you haven’t read it, why are you most excited to get your hands on this anthology?

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